“Overall, when we look at the tape and we ask ourselves, was it the play or the player, was it us or them, we’ve found it’s on us to clean up our football and become more efficient doing it on a play-by-play basis,” Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman said.
Cutler’s statistical anomaly served as proof of that. Before the Bears' 26-18 loss on Sunday, Cutler had lost only one of 27 games as a starter (including the postseason) in which he finished with a passer rating of 100 or better. That loss came courtesy of Seattle last December, when the Seahawks marched 97 yards at the end of regulation and 80 yards in overtime to best the Bears 23-17.
Against the Saints, Cutler completed 24 of 33 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, for a passer rating of 128.1.
But mistakes still doomed the Bears. In the first quarter, the offensive line struggled to pick up the New Orleans blitz, resulting in three sacks and a Cutler fumble that the Saints turned into a 19-yard field goal. But even before that, running back Matt Forte short-circuited the team’s opening drive when he fumbled a pitch on the first play from scrimmage.
“There were a few downs that we missed. There was a big fourth down going in that we missed. We weren’t as efficient in the red zone,” Cutler said. “A few plays here and there against a team like that, the way they played offensively and ate up the clock, it’s hard to rebound if you miss three or four plays.”
Earl Bennett demonstrated that in the fourth quarter on the final play of a drive that started at the Chicago 4-yard line and ended at the New Orleans 25. With 8:45 left to play and the Bears behind 23-10, Bennett dropped an almost perfectly thrown pass on fourth-and-2.